BONANG Matheba is well aware of her clout, but she’s still level-headed.

She acknowledges that her #iamBonang moment was preceded by plenty of others before hers, like the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, both which spurred international action and responses, yet leaving the country to still have its definitive moment.

When I ask her why she thinks this is, she pauses with a thoughtful “hmm”, and says, “you know, culturally, South Africa is different, but also, constitutionally, South Africa is fresh, South Africa is young, South Africa is new”.

“There are many wounds that we are yet to deal with before we can move on, and tackle anything else. There’s so much forgiveness that still needs to happen and we can’t compare ourselves to the globe.

“We are ahead in other aspects internationally, but in some aspects unfortunately we fall very, very short.”

In terms of shortcomings, Matheba affirms that nothing much has changed for women today.

“We can disguise it as much as we want. A woman is killed or raped in our country every 30 seconds. That needs to stop.”

In light of these facts, and especially while some are calling this the year of the woman, I ask Matheba what message she hopes she could impart to men.

“You don’t have to be abusive. It doesn’t make you less of a man if you don’t show your physical strength,” she says, adding that she lives in fear everyday.

“I shake because we are literally living among monsters. And it’s not everybody. But unfortunately because there’s so much of the bad, the good doesn’t shine through.”

Of the zeitgeist, Matheba calls it bittersweet. “It’s an important time in that more and more voices and stories are being heard. More women are speaking out. We know their names,” she says, referring to local victims of violence against women, like Karabo Mokoena.

“We can say who they are, we know their stories, we bury them, they live among us. That’s an important start.”

SUNDAY TRIBUNE